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Mauri Tirikatene said about Karanga Manu: “Originally, the purpose of these tiny flutes was to lure birds by mimicking their own calls, sometimes to bring them into the hunters range for easy capture. By placing the pursed lips at the correct angle to the mouthpiece, the player is able to mimic several kinds of bird calls. Today this little flute can create interesting and humorous responses from garden birds and forest dwellers alike and in reflection on these beautiful sounds we can create our own ‘bird songs’.
In Maori cosmogony a story tells of the God singing the universe into existence. Thus music is important and so special that traditionally, it needed a reason to be performed. The reasons for the existence of all the instruments is part of Maori mythology and the instruments are perceived as families descended from children of the Gods. Mythology tells how the primal parents Rangi and Papa, the Sky Father and Earth Mother were for ages in close embrace with their children cramped between them. Eventually the children, led by Tane, forced them apart and then had to set about creating order in their new expanded world. Firstly they clothed the sky with ever changing clouds and slow moving stars and the earth was clothed with plants to give beauty and birds to add song.
Brian Flintoff is a master bone-carver, whose work is held on marae through Aotearoa and in private and public collections and museums throughout the world. He has been carving for over 35 years, and has been most influenced in his work by traditional Maori artists, as well as artists from other indigenous cultures, especially that of the West Coast Canadian Indian tribes. He is the author ofTaonga Puoro: Singing Treasures, about the musical instruments of the Maori, and Brian is also widely regarded as one of Aotearoa’s pre-eminent makers of Maori instruments. He works from his home studio in Nelson.